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'It's a great life'
Stevenson making a splash at Wimbledon
Posted: Saturday June 26, 1999 04:50 PM
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Alexandra Stevenson, probably the least known of the American women making a splash at Wimbledon this year, is ready to start making a name for herself.
The 18-year-old from San Diego upset No. 11 Julie Halard-Decugis 6-3, 6-3 Saturday to reach the fourth round in her Wimbledon debut, winning 12 of her last 13 matches on grass.
"My serve was the big key because my goal in this match was to hold my serve," she said after the victory. "I stayed really focused."
Stevenson, who has just announced she will turn pro, entered Wimbledon as an amateur and is ineligible for prize money. But that doesn't mean she won't try to win the whole thing.
"Yes, I have a goal to win this tournament," Stevenson said after her latest victory. "Actually, I set the goal when I was nine to win Wimbledon at the age of 19, so ... it'll be really cool if I beat my goal by a year."
The teenager has had the kind of coaching needed to meet that goal, the type of guidance young players only dream of.
Don Budge and Tracy Austin have worked with her, and so has Pete Sampras' sister, Stella. She received a lesson on how to hit a one-handed backhand from 1932 Wimbledon champ Ellsworth Vines. Bobby Riggs once put hundred-dollar bills under cones on the court, and challenged her by saying she would get the money if she knocked the cone over with her serve.
She works now with Craig Kardon, who guided Martina Navratilova until her retirement, and it's all paying off.
But life is so full for Stevenson that you wonder how she's ever found time for tennis. She's taken ballet, tap and jazz dance lessons since the age of 4.
She takes gospel singing lessons, and sang and danced in her high school's production of "Guys and Doll".
And while many players spend hours on tour watching soaps or wandering the shopping malls, Stevenson wrote a play for her drama class.
She graduated from high school on May 28 and jumped on a plane to England the next day, reaching the quarterfinals in a Wimbledon grass-court warmup three weeks ago in Birmingham, England.
Stevenson dreams of attending Yale's School of Drama when her tennis career is over, but she is putting off that college education for now.
"I don't want to go to college any more. I want to go later in my career, maybe when I'm 30 or 35 but not right now."
It is tennis that has opened up a whole new world.
"You travel everywhere and I'm very excited I get to go to cities I've never been to," she said. "It's a great life."
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